PhD research grant for Head of Sixth Form Academic Music at Chetham’s

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Sarah Oliver, Head of Sixth Form Academic Music at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, has received a Musica Britannica Trust Research Award towards her work examining music and culture of the 13th century, when Henry III reigned.

Oliver is studying for a PhD at the University of Huddersfield. The Musica Britannica Trust award will enable her to acquire a costly facsimile edition of surviving repertoire from the Henry III period. This will be an important aid to her research, which is supervised by the University of Huddersfield’s Dr Lisa Colton, Reader in Musicology and a leading authority on medieval music.

Set up in 1951, the Trust’s core aim is to publish an authoritative national collection of British music.

The project fulfils a long-standing personal ambition to carry out doctoral research into music of the Middle Ages. Sarah Oliver studied music at Oxford in the 1990s and planned to move straight on to a PhD. But instead, her children came along and she embarked on a teaching career that led to her current post at Chetham’s.

Sarah Oliver said:

‘Now my daughter is reading music at Cambridge and when she came back for her first vacation she brought a lot of medieval repertoire as holiday work and said ‘I need your help’. It reignited something that had always been on the back burner and made me think that this is the time.

‘Medieval music was my first love and has always been my greatest interest academically. Because Henry III had such a long reign – politically turbulent at times – there must be more to know about his relationship with music. He had a lot of chapels and was responsible for the rebuilding of Westminster Abbey.

‘A lot of [the music] exists intriguingly and sometimes maddeningly as interpolations into miscellanies, so there will be a page of music written into a book that has nothing to do with music. So it is a question of wondering how it got there,.’

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